Yesterday Ben Bahati was wearing a T-shirt with contemporary artwork and the wording: NO FEAR! I asked him if there was any significance to the words. The answer was yes. He indicated that there had been threats by Al-Shabab.
To bring some of you up to speed, neighboring Somalia in recent years has been dragged back to a pre-civilization status by the infighting of heavily armed and extremely violent Islamist groups competing to see who can most fully embrace the ways of Mohammed and the fundamentals of Islam and impose them on everyone within reach.
In recent months, for example, they have tried to shut down international AID organizations feeding their starving countrymen. They apparently think it is better to be a dead ‘believer’ than to be rescued from starvation by ‘infidels’.
You may have seen news reports the past couple of years of ships being hijacked and held for ransom in the waters off East Africa. Some of the money from those payoffs has flowed into Kenya to buy strategic real estate, purchase influence and to fuel a potential Islamic independence movement in Mombasa and Coast Province. Local reports indicate these people are also major players in human trafficking–especially orphans.
Before I left on this trip I saw a news article reporting that Al-Shabab has called for the
murder of every American in Kenya. Their threats are more than political posturing. A few weeks ago, several Western tourists were kidnapped and spirited off to Somalia. At least one has died in captivity.
This past week, Al-Shabab reportedly threatened to bomb Christian New Year’s gatherings whether they be in public venues or in local churches. (Over Christmas a similar Islamist group in Nigeria bombed a church killing 35 Christmas worshippers.) Many weekend events in Nairobi were reportedly cancelled as a precaution.
So back to Ben. Should he and his team take the risk of holding previously planned public rallies between Christmas and New Year’s in the face of credible threats?
In the end, Ben went ahead with the meetings which in this instance were peaceful and resulted in more than 9000 people making an initial public indication of their desire to accept God’s gift of salvation in Christ Jesus.
It took discernment and courage to do so. Ben said quietly and with emotion, “God has protected us. God has protected us. God has protected us.”
I encourage you to do a couple of things.
First, when the Spirit brings East Africa to mind, pray for wisdom and protection for God’s People. Pray for them as they boldly proclaim the Gospel in an setting where there is a deep hunger to know God.
Second, consider your own level of commitment to the Gospel. Does it support persevering in the faith publicly in the face of violent threats or government intimidation?
There is a great Christophobic Darkness coming over our world. This is not isolated to East Africa. America will not being spared.
Now is the time to exam your faith to determine how far you are willing to go in the face of official opposition and terroristic threats to publicly identify yourself and your family with Jesus and His kingdom.
The New Testament promises this Darkness must certainly come and have its moment. Can you say with Ben Bahati, NO FEAR!